THERE'S something about scraping warm vomit off beige plush pile carpet in the middle of the night to make you think motherhood might not have been a stellar choice.
Oh sure, the hours are flexible, the dress code is relaxed and there's the added bonus of being able to yell at teenagers.
But sometimes, as I suppress the urge to gag while squeezing another vomit-soaked cloth into the loo, I can't help wondering if I wouldn't have been just as fulfilled and less stressed doing something easier with my days, like being part of the Baghdad bomb disposal unit.
I can't imagine that job calling for me to scrape out the goop at the bottom of the sink after someone shoved their half-eaten dinner down the plughole or to fish around with my bare hands in a rubbish bin full of soggy Weetbix and two-day old lasagne looking for a school excursion permission note that was accidentally thrown out. And I'm sure no other job description includes retrieving stinky soccer socks from under the bed.
Nope. Only motherhood calls for the skills of a Swat team, the stamina of a shopper at the Boxing Day sales, the steady nerves of a hostage negotiator, the patience of a person on the public hospital waiting list and the dexterity of an Olympic gymnast (admittedly the dexterity bit is not used much after the first ninth months unless, of course, someone drops money or a mobile phone down between the front seats of the car).
Motherhood is a highly specialised field - it's definitely not for everyone, as was clearly demonstrated this week when my eldest asked me for some career suggestions as part of a school assignment.
When he baulked at the idea of cleaning up vomit I immediately knew he wasn't cut out to be someone's mama, even though this same child, only two nights earlier, had had no problem recreating the infamous spewing scene from The Exorcist.
"So what sort of work would you like to do?" I asked him. "Dunno," was the informative reply.
I tried a different approach - after all I was talking to a 15-year-old. Maybe I'd have more luck getting through without using the word "work''.
"Think about what really excites or interests you," I said. "Maybe that could lead you in the direction of an occupation you would enjoy."
"I want something that pays heaps of money, where I don't have to wear a stupid uniform or do much work and where they let me drive a Ferrari."
It was time to set my little space cadet straight about the real world.
"Okay sunshine, here's the thing, we spent all your inheritance on your braces, so one day you'll have to work for a living and I hate to break it to you but Donald Trump isn't going to be knocking on the door, throwing money at you, Manchester United already has a star striker, it's a big jump from X-Box Guitar Hero to being the next Hendrix or Slash and there's a distinct lack of 'Ferrari Test Drivers wanted' adverts in the paper, so unless you want to become familiar with the phrase, 'do you want fries with that', I suggest you start planning your career."
"But mum, I don't have a clue what I want to be when I grow up. How did you know you made the right choice?"
"Who said I made the right choice? Trust me, sweetie, if I had my chance over I wouldn't be a mother. The hours are gruelling, the demands are never-ending, the pay sucks and there are way too many bodily fluids involved."
"So if you could do it all again what would you be?"
"Oh that's easy - a father."
Family Taming is a weekly humour column written by Wendy Andrews.
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